Big Ten Game On: 02.25.12 Edition

Posted by Ryan Terpstra on February 25th, 2012

Six games this weekend in the Big Ten, and tonight features two of the conference leaders.  Let’s get to it.

Purdue @ #11 Michigan, 6 PM, BTN

Michigan's Senior Night against Purdue will be a big game for Zach Novak and Stu Douglass (US Presswire)

  • The Boilermakers need a win over a ranked opponent really bad.  Like, really, REALLY bad.  That’s because Purdue is 1-5 against teams in the RPI Top 25 and 4-7 against the Top 50.  A win would obviously help those stats out, and possibly put an end to the bubble talk surrounding the Boilermakers’ chances for an invite to the NCAA Tournament.  Robbie Hummel is doing his part, shooting 50% from the field and averaging 24.8 PPG over his last four contests. He also dropped a stat line of 16 points, five boards, and six assists the last time these two teams met, and will be expected to lead again.  Matt Painter will have to devise a plan to slow down the smoking-hot Wolverines, who have won five of their last six and have yet to lose at home this season.  It will be an emotional Senior Night in Ann Arbor, as fan favorites Zach Novak and Stu Douglass will be honored.  Douglass hasn’t missed a game in his Michigan career, while Novak was named the program’s first Academic All-American since 1984.

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Big Ten Morning Five: 02.22.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on February 22nd, 2012

  1. Whatever they did, it worked. The Detroit News’ Rod Beard takes you inside Michigan‘s intense preparation for Northwestern‘s unique style of play ahead of the Wolverines’ overtime win in Evanston on Tuesday night, helping to keep Michigan on pace in the conference standings. It details coaches’ late hours, the film review, and how the Wolverines planned to attack Northwestern leading scorer John Shurna. The senior finished with just 14 points, well below his average, and Michigan held him in check during the late stages Tuesday night. Looks like all that prep paid off.
  2. Speaking of Shurna, he may not have been on his game on Tuesday night, but the Chicago Tribune‘s David Haugh points out that there’s a lot more to Shurna than just putting the ball in the hoop. The Wildcats senior and Northwestern all-time career scoring leader re-reads the Harry Potter books and is a big believer in humanitarian efforts, for starters. It’s safe to say he’s got a pretty full resume.
  3. It seems Tubby Smith is going to keep tinkering with his Minnesota lineup until he sees something he really likes. With the Golden Gophers on the bubble and hosting Michigan State on Wednesday night, it’s a prime opportunity for Minnesota to make a statement. It looks like that means another lineup change. Amelia Rayno from the Star Tribune writes that fans are likely to see the ninth different starting lineup on Wednesday. Smith didn’t say who the new five would be, but Rayno has good insight into who may be coming and who may be going.
  4. The list of things that may have Bruce Weber in scalding-hot water after Illinois wraps up this disappointing season is a long one. But Ken Thompson of the Lafayette Journal-Courier says straying from the principles of his mentor was part of Weber’s downfall. Thompson writes that Weber — who spent 18 years under Gene Keady at Purdue — never instilled the mixture of toughness and affection that Keady had with his Boilermakers team, and it cost him at Illinois.
  5. As for Purdue nowadays, it’s going to have to change with the departure of Kelsey Barlow. The Boilermakers are trying to reach the NCAA Tournament for the sixth consecutive season, but their task is tougher since coach Matt Painter kicked Barlow off the team last week. Painter said it depends on the match-ups, but you can expect to see Lewis Jackson, Terone Johnson, Ryne Smith, and D.J. Byrd all step up and expand their roles. With four games remaining on the Big Ten regular season schedule and the Big Ten Tournament ahead, those players have the opportunity to make the most of their enhanced roles.
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Checking In On… the Big Ten Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 21st, 2012

Bill Hupp is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference. Follow him on Twitter (@Bill_Hupp) for his thoughts on hoops, food, box fans and life.

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was

  • Boiling Over: Give credit to Matt Painter for making a difficult decision in the stretch run of a season. Painter kicked Kelsey Barlow off the team and suspended D.J. Byrd for the Michigan State game for a “violation of team rules.” They’ll miss Barlow’s experience and slashing ability, but sometimes this kind of incident can galvanize a team.
  • Lincoln > Land of Lincoln: Any doubts about whether Illinois was still playing for embattled head coach Bruce Weber were answered when Nebraska used a 52-12 run to bury the Illini, 80-57, on Sunday. Brandon Paul and Meyers Leonard combined for 11 total points. You just can’t let the worst offensive team in the Big Ten put up 80 on you. Illinois has now lost eight of its last nine games and Weber seems resigned to his likely fate (see video below).
  • Shurna Can Score: Congrats to John Shurna, a nice kid and a fantastic (if unorthodox) scorer who is now the all-time leading scorer in Northwestern history. His deep three-pointer midway through the second half against Minnesota gave him 18 points to surpass Billy McKinney (1,900 points).  More importantly to Shurna, the Wildcats picked up a win to stay in the hunt for first-ever NCAA Tournament berth.

The Spartans And Buckeyes Have Company At The Top Of The Standings. (AP/Carlos Osorio)

Power Rankings

  1. Michigan State (22-5, 11-3) – Not since Tim Duncan in 1997-98 has a player averaged more than 15 points per game, 10 rebounds a game and three assists per game. But Draymond Green has done just that, and he continued to show his versatility on Sunday at Purdue with a 20-point, 10 rebound and seven-assist performance to lead the Spartans to a road win. He has to be the Big Ten POY if MSU wins the conference.
  2. Ohio State (22-5, 10-4) – William Buford has had big games for Ohio State this season, but his struggles late in the regular season may cost Ohio State a Big Ten crown. He shot a combined 5-for-24 in the Buckeyes’ losses to Michigan State and Michigan, and just hasn’t shown the big game leadership that you would expect out of a senior. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big Ten Game On: 02.21.12 Edition

Posted by Ryan Terpstra on February 21st, 2012

It’s a big night for the second place teams in the Big Ten as both Ohio State and Michigan look to keep pace with conference leader Michigan State.  It’s an equally big night for two teams that are desperately trying to make their way into the NCAA tournament as well.  Game On!!!

Illinois at #8 Ohio State, 7 PM, ESPN/ESPN3

Ohio State will be looking for revenge against Illinois at home. (Neal C. Lauron/Columbus Dispatch/MCT)

  • The Buckeyes are smarting after recent losses to MSU and Michigan, and now is the time to gather themselves and bounce back.  The Big Ten Conference title is still very much within their grasp if they can get back on the winning track en route to a showdown against the Spartans in East Lansing on March 4.  However, they must figure out a way to use the talents of Jared Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas, and William Buford properly.  There is no question that OSU possesses plenty of talent, but mentally the Buckeyes need to find themselves.  They were out-toughed by Michigan State and made too many mistakes against Michigan.  Illinois is a team prone to making mistakes, and the Buckeyes need to take advantage.  It won’t be easy, though, because if Bruce Weber has any inclinations on saving his job, he must finish the season strong and make the NCAA Tournament, and that includes beating Ohio State.  The Illini have already done it once this season back on January 10, and even thought they’ve struggled mightily since then (1-8 in the following nine games), would it be ridiculous to suggest that Illinois is the team with the least pressure to win?  Not much is expected of Brandon Paul and his crew, and they have to have confidence that they can upset a team that they’ve beaten once before just a little more than a month ago.
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Set Your TiVo: 02.21.12

Posted by bmulvihill on February 21st, 2012

Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @themulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Lots of important conference games on the docket this evening. As we move into the final two weeks of the regular season in college hoops, there are several conference titles up for grabs.  It should be a fantastic closing to the season before we head into the postseason.

Kim English, Ricardo Ratliffe & The Rest Of The Tigers Look To Avenge Their Earlier Loss

Kansas State at #3 Missouri – 7:00PM EST on ESPN2 (****)

  • Along with Texas, Kansas State sits squarely on the bubble in the Big 12. A road win at Missouri would do wonders for their tourney chances. Frank Martin’s team is coming off a nice win against Baylor and can feel some comfort in the fact they have beaten the Tigers once already this season. They need to take advantage of their size on the offensive glass as they in did the previous match-up with Mizzou. Additionally, keep a close eye on Kansas State’s ability to get to the free throw line as the Wildcats rely heavily on free throws. Also, watch Rodney McGruder’s shooting from deep. Missouri is allowing teams to shoot 39.7% from three in conference play. McGruder is Kansas State’s best three-point shooter and can have a huge impact in a close game.
  • Missouri is on a collision course with Kansas next Saturday in Lawrence. In what could be the last regular season “Boarder Wars”, the game looms large for the Tigers. In most cases, this would be a classic trap game. However, with a loss earlier in the season to Kansas State, don’t expect Missouri to look past the Wildcats. The Tigers are undefeated at home, have won seven in a row, and operate the most efficient offense in the entire country. They look ready for a deep run in the tourney. Keep a close eye on how Ricardo Ratliffe plays against the Kansas State size. He had zero impact in the last game and needs a better showing for Missouri to win tonight.
  • This game comes down to defense. Kansas State held the Tigers to their worst shooting performance of the season in their previous match-up. If they can do the same in this one, they have a chance to pull the big upset. If Missouri can box out on the defensive end and create turnovers, they can avenge their previous loss to the Wildcats.
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Big Ten Game On: 02.11.12 Edition

Posted by Ryan Terpstra on February 11th, 2012

It was a quiet Friday night in the Big Ten (because, you know, there were no games), but the action certainly picks up on the court today as two of the top teams in the league face off.  Also, on Sunday we have some schools desperate for a win on the road against opponents who need a victory to keep pace within the conference.  It all bodes for a very interesting Big Ten weekend.

Nebraska at Penn State, 1 pm ET Saturday

  • Though these two teams currently sport the bottom two records in the league, don’t think for a second that this game doesn’t mean something. Nebraska desperately needs to get on the right track in their first season in the Big Ten, and a road win at Penn State would help get things moving in that direction. Meanwhile, Penn State has lost five straight and eight out of their last nine; and in no way do they want that streak to continue. It helps that the Nittany Lions will have the best player on the court in guard Tim Fraizer.

#12 Michigan State at #3 Ohio State, 6 pm ET Saturday

  • This is the biggest marquee game for the league so far this season and not just because it is between two teams that are within a game of each other at the top of the standings. Both teams have good size, tremendous guard play, and it will be strength-vs-strength when the Spartans and Buckeyes do battle on national television (ESPN). In the yesterday’s Big Ten Morning Five there was a link to an article talking about the headache Big Ten coaches have had in trying to figure out how to properly defend Jared Sullinger. Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo probably is the best equipped to deal with the Buckeye big man, as beefy Derrick Nix and long-armed Adreian Payne can be used to slow Sullinger down. Draymond Green may also take his turn on Sullinger, but his foremost job will be to continue his Big Ten-best 10.6 RPG along with his 15 PPG. Green’s leadership will also be key for this road test as sophomore guard Keith Appling and freshman forward Branden Dawson will be the other Spartans expected to score. Look for Ohio State guard William Buford to try and loosen things up for Sullinger early on as the senior knows how important a win and two-game cushion over Michigan State would be.

Containing Jared Sullinger will be the top priority for Michign State. (Greg Shamus/Getty)

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Checking In On… the Big Ten Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 8th, 2012

Bill Hupp is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference. Follow him on Twitter (@Bill_Hupp) for his thoughts on hoops, food, PR, various city river walks and life.

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was:

  • Halfway Home: As of this week, the regular season conference schedule is officially more than halfway done. And – with apologies to Dennis Green– teams are pretty much who we thought they were at the beginning of the season. Ohio State is the class of the conference; Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana are solid NCAA Tournament teams; Purdue, Minnesota, Illinois, and Northwestern are fighting for seeding while Iowa, Nebraska, and Penn State pick up the rear. Of course, there have been some upsets and many compelling games, but now that the dust is starting to settle, the cream of the crop has risen to the top.
  • Super Shurna: Leave it to a savvy veteran to catch fire at just the right time. With Northwestern’s hopes of making its first NCAA Tournament fading fast, John Shurna won co-Big Ten Player of the Week honors after he shot a blistering 71% from the field and averaged 26 points, four rebounds, and two steals to lead the injury-depleted Wildcats to a home win over Nebraska and a road victory over Illinois. Shurna is up there with Michigan State’s Draymond Green and Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor as the most valuable players to their respective teams.
  • Close Calls: Illinois may be struggling at the moment, but they aren’t getting blown out. Each of the Illini’s last six games has been decided by five points or less. Unfortunately for the Orange Crush, they are just 2-4 in those games. Now they get to go on the road for four of their next five, starting with a doozy of a week with games at Indiana and at Michigan.

Will Draymond Green And The Spartans Snap Ohio State's Impressive Winning Streak In Columbus Saturday? (Al Goldis/AP)

Power Rankings

  1. Ohio State (21-3, 9-2) – With the amount of scoring options Thad Matta has, it’s really just a matter of if Ohio State wants to defend you. They didn’t do that against Indiana or Brandon Paul (though he was just on fire that day), and sure enough, they lost both games. Purdue gave the Scarlet-and-Gray all they could handle before OSU escaped with an 84-81 win. Buckeyes face an interesting test when Michigan State comes calling to Columbus on Saturday. A win would put them in a comfortable position to win the regular season crown.
  2. Michigan State (18-5, 7-3) – All of East Lansing waited with baited breath to learn the results of Draymond Green’s MRI. After Green left the game with a minor knee injury, Michigan State struggled mightily in a 42-41 upset loss. They bounced back nicely against their in-state rivals, and sure enough, Green led them with 14 points and 16 boards. As good a season as State has had, it could be even better: Two of the three conference losses have been by a single point on the road. Read the rest of this entry »
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Taking a Look At Northwestern’s NCAA Tournament Case

Posted by jnowak on February 7th, 2012

Ah, life on the bubble. One day things look good, and the next they look bleak. Today, things are looking up for Northwestern as Bill Carmody tries to lead the Wildcats to their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth. But how long can things look rosy, and how much wiggle room to they have? Potentially not long. And not much.

John Shurna has a great chance to lead Northwestern to its first-ever NCAA Tournament. (Anthony Gruppuso / US Presswire)

To start with, the Wildcats already have the 10th-best strength of schedule in the country, and it should stay in that range through the end of the season. They also have a strong RPI of #37, and are certainly the beneficiaries of a first-rate Big Ten this year (six of the top 10 schools for strength of schedule are from the conference). Also, the Wildcats really don’t have a terrible loss. Every team they’ve lost to — Baylor, Creighton, Ohio State, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Purdue — has a legitimate shot at the NCAA Tournament. Northwestern’s worst defeat is probably a 75-52 loss at Minnesota, one of their three road losses by 20 or more points.

As for their road ahead in order to secure an NCAA Tournament bid, the Wildcats must win three of their last four at home, beating Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan, and losing just to Ohio State. As for road games, they need to beat Penn State and Iowa but can afford losses at Purdue and Indiana. If things go that way, the Wildcats will be 19-11 overall and 9-9 in the conference with wins over Michigan State, Michigan and at Illinois. Best-case scenario, Northwestern could end up 20-12 overall (9-9 Big Ten) with a Big Ten Tournament win to help pad the resume, without a single disastrous loss to an RPI Top 100 team.

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Big Ten Morning Five: 02.03.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on February 3rd, 2012

  1. Tom Izzo‘s affinity for football is well documented — he’s always joked about coaching football, even at Michigan State, and his best friend is former NFL head coach Steve Mariucci — but apparently his passion for other sports extends into the boxing ring, as well. James Dundee, the son of Angelo Dundee, who was Muhammad Ali‘s trainer that died Wednesday at the age of 90, said Angelo and Izzo met once. The two Italians hit it off so well that Angelo never missed a Michigan State game from then on. “He was sitting there saying, ‘That’s my man I-Zo,’” James Dundee said when he happened on his father watching the Spartans on Tuesday. “Once he met Izzo, Dad never missed another Michigan State game.”
  2. If Bill Carmody is concerned about John Shurna‘s minutes, he has a funny way of showing it. The Wildcats played just six men in their 84-74 win against Nebraska on Thursday night, and Shurna played all 40 minutes in the game. Entering Thursday, the senior was averaging 39.2 minutes per Big Ten game, most amongst his conference counterparts. It was Northwestern‘s first win since a January 14 upset of Michigan State when, ironically, the Wildcats got double-digit scoring from four different players.
  3. We’re 23 games into Indiana‘s season and the Indianapolis Star‘s Terry Hutchens still doesn’t really know what to make of this squad. The Hoosiers started the season 12-0 and 15-1 overall, leading many to believe that this team was peaking well ahead of time. Now they’ve fallen back down to earth and haven’t been able to win on the road, so some people are starting to talk about them as an NIT team. Hutchens says they’re more than likely NCAA Tournament-bound but, when such inconsistency is at play, it’s really too hard to make a reliable prediction.
  4. Speaking of Indiana, the Hoosiers will have another chance to finally get a road win — the Hoosiers are 0-31 under Tom Crean in Big Ten games against everyone but Penn State — in an important in-state rivalry game on Saturday at Purdue. The two schools began playing each other in 1901, and there have been some remarkable shifts in power along the way. In the last few years, Tom Crean has struggled while trying to rebuild the IU program as Purdue has thrived under Matt Painter. This season, the time seems to have turned (Indiana is 17-5 and Purdue 15-7), but you can usually throw all of that out the window in a rivalry game like this one.
  5. Ohio State has had absolutely no shortage of talented freshmen under Thad Matta. Is LaQuinton Ross next? The freshman was an ESPNU Top 75 recruit out of high school, but hasn’t had the opportunity to contribute immediately as players like Greg Oden or Jared Sullinger have under Matta. “I’m still part of a great team that has a chance to win the national title,” Ross told the Columbus Dispatch. “I’ve just got to be ready at all times because you never know when Coach Matta might call my number.” Matta has called Ross’ number in five of the Buckeyes’ nine Big Ten games  (he didn’t play at all during the non-conference slate) and, though he has never played more than seven minutes a game, he has scored in each of the last two games he’s appeared in.
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Checking In On… The Big Ten Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 31st, 2012

Bill Hupp is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference. Follow him on Twitter (@Bill_Hupp) for his thoughts on hoops, food, PR, various city river walks, and life.

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was

  • Tom Izzo is a Big Ten Legend: The emotional Michigan native won his 400th career game this week when Tom Izzo guided the Spartans to a comfortable 68-52 home win over Minnesota. No matter who leaves, the guy simply gets the most out of his teams year in and year out by emphasizing selflessness, defense, rebounding and toughness. There’s a reason that Michigan State always seems to be playing its best ball by the time March rolls around.
  • Up Comes Frazier!: Raise your hand at home if you had Penn State’s Tim Frazier as a likely first-team All-Big Ten candidate in February. If you did, you are a basketball savant and should be writing this column [Ed. Note: Or you are a Penn State homer.]. The 6’2” junior dominated against Penn State’s soft non-conference schedule, but hasn’t slowed down in Big Ten play. In league games, he is leading the conference in scoring (18.7 PPG), assists (5.3 APG), and steals (2.5. SPG). Admittedly, wins have been hard to come by for the Nittany Lions this season, but Frazier has been a bright spot in Happy Valley.
  • Welcome Back, Wisco: With Bo Ryan still at the helm, nobody thought Wisconsin would be down for long, and while it hasn’t always been pretty, the Badgers ran their current winning streak to five games after they downed Indiana at the Kohl Center this week. During this streak, they ground out tough road wins over Purdue and Illinois and claimed home victories over Nebraska, Northwestern and Indiana.

After a 3-2 start to conference play, Ohio State Has Won Its Last Four Games By A Combined 90 Points. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty)

Power Rankings

  1. Ohio State (19-3, 7-2) – Value City Arena isn’t the first Big Ten gym to come to mind when you think of fearsome places to play in the conference, but teams that have entered “The Grey” recently haven’t had much success. The students are passionate and the place is big and cavernous, more of a professional arena than a cozy college gymnasium. There’s a reason why the Buckeyes have won 38 straight at VCA and are winning their home Big Ten games in the nation’s best conference (according to the RPI) by an average of 24 points.
  2. Michigan State (17-4, 6-2) – Perhaps the most encouraging thing about Michigan State’s win over Minnesota was that it proved that point guard Keith Appling can go 1-8 from the field and score seven points … and the Spartans can still win by double digits. Freshman Branden Dawson continues to show flashes of brilliance, as he stepped up to score 16 points in Appling’s stead. Someone needs to provide a second scoring option to Draymond Green and if it can’t be Appling that day, it falls to Dawson or Valpo transfer Brandon Wood. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… The Big Ten Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 10th, 2012

Bill Hupp is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference. Follow him on Twitter @Bill_Hupp for his thoughts on hoops, food, Russian nesting dolls and life.

Reader’s Take 

 

The Week That Was:

  • OT Madness in Madison: It was just one of the most unusual endings to a basketball game in recent memory. Ryan Evans banked home a turn-around desperation heave from the right wing as time expired, and many thought the Michigan StateWisconsin game in Madison was heading to a second overtime tied at 63. It was waved off, however, after officials discovered the there was a 0.2-second disparity between the game clock on the basket and the one on the scoreboard. By rule, the officials used the clock on the basket, which expired with the ball in Evans’ fingertips. (The must-see full video is after the jump). Ball game over as Wisconsin’s woes continued under truly bizarre circumstances.
  • Bertrand to the Rescue: A subtle, underrated move by Illini coach Bruce Weber has Illinois at 3-1 and currently tied for second in the conference. Looking to shake up his lackluster team, Weber gave little-used sophomore wing Joseph Bertrand more minutes against Missouri. Bertrand responded by going 9-9 from the field for 19 points. In the last five games, Bertrand has averaged 15 points and 3.2 rebounds in 29.2 minutes, and has even started the past two. He poured in a career-high 25 points on 11-12 shooting to help the Illini survive Nebraska at home.
  • Road Warriors: First, Iowa took down Wisconsin at the Kohl Center. As a follow-up act, the Hawkeyes went up to The Barn this week and knocked off Minnesota. That’s no small feat for team who was blown out by Campbell earlier this season and whose leading scorer in conference play is 28th in scoring (Matt Gatens at 10.5 PPG). It’s doubtful Fran McCaffrey’s bunch will finish conference play with even a .500 record, but they have proven they can make shots and win on the road.

Who Will Stop Draymond Green And Michigan State? (Al Goldis/AP)

Power Rankings

  1. Ohio State (15-2, 3-1) – When you consider that Ohio State plays in the nation’s top-ranked conference (according to the RPI), it’s pretty insane that the Buckeyes have won three of their Big Ten games by an average of 31 points. They aren’t just beating lesser opponents; they are destroying them. It’s a clear indication of why the Buckeyes are considered by many the class of the conference and one of the favorites to win it all in New Orleans. Another reason is that OSU is ranked in the top 3 in 16 of the Big 10′s 21 statistical categories. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the Big Ten Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 3rd, 2012

Bill Hupp is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference. Follow him on Twitter (@Bill_Hupp) for his thoughts on hoops, food, Russian nesting dolls and life.

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was:

  • B1G is the Country’s Deepest Conference: With nine teams ranked 52nd or higher in the RPI, the Big Ten is the deepest and best conference – top-to-bottom – in the nation this season. The depth of the conference was never more evident than on Saturday, when Iowa hung 75 in a win at Wisconsin and Nebraska hung close with Michigan State deep into the second half. If you don’t come to play on nightly basis in this conference, even the league’s bottom-feeders can pop you with a loss. Expect the conference’s lofty records (and rankings) to diminish some over the next couple of months as the league beats each other up in Big Ten play.
  • Michigan State – So Hot Right Now: Few teams in the country are rolling like Michigan State. The Big Ten leaders sit atop the standings and are currently riding a 13-game winning streak after opening up conference play with an emphatic win over Indiana and a resilient effort at Nebraska. They have their normal interior size and strength with Draymond Green, Derrick Nix, and Adreian Payne, but Keith Appling – a player that Tom Izzo has called “the fastest point guard he’s ever coached” – is really starting to assert himself. The 6’1’’ sophomore had 25 points and seven assists against Indiana then contributed 14 point and six dimes against the Huskers.
  • Giant Killers: For the first time in its illustrious program’s history, Indiana has defeated the No. 1- and 2-ranked teams in the country in the same season. Assembly Hall has always been an intimidating place to play for opponents, with its combination of raucous fans and rich tradition. The key for the Hoosiers to make this a special season will be to duplicate that success on the road.

Tom Crean Tells Us How Many Wins His Hoosiers Have Over Top Five Teams This Season.

Power Rankings

  1. Ohio State (13-2, 1-1) – It might not have seemed like much at the time, but the dubious call that wiped out Jared Sullinger’s lay-up and sent him to the bench in the first half with his second foul against Indiana proved to be enormous. That early foul trouble limited the OSU center’s playing time (nine minutes) and production (five points, two rebounds) in the first half. William Buford was as absent against the Hoosiers (eight points and four rebounds) as he was dominant against Northwestern (28/9) in the conference opener.
  2. Michigan State (13-2, 2-0) – How do you respond when you’ve built a 19-point lead at home, only to watch it disappear after a 25-2 run by your opponent? You go on a 20-0 spurt of your own to regain control of the game. Coming off an emotional victory against Indiana in East Lansing on Wednesday, it’s no surprise that Michigan State came out flat against Nebraska and trailed at halftime. They righted the ship in the second half though, and ended up beating the Cornhuskers by 13. When Michigan State is on their game and playing the kind of hard-nosed, physical brand of basketball that Tom Izzo loves, they are as good as anyone in the Big Ten. Read the rest of this entry »
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